FLC News

SSC Pacific’s Fluctuation Enhanced Chemical Sensing

0411 08

Fluctuation enhanced sensing (FES) uses sophisticated statistical analysis tools to incorporate this additional informationSPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSCP) seeks to commercialize a suite of patents for highly sensitive and selective chemical sensing systems. The interaction between a chemical sensor and the molecules it detects is always a dynamic stochastic process. Fluctuations that result from this interaction carry a "stochastic fingerprint" of the chemicals with which the sensor interacts. Microscopic fluctuations around the mean value of the sensor signal contain much more information than the mean value alone. Fluctuation enhanced sensing (FES) uses sophisticated statistical analysis tools to incorporate this additional information. SSCP’s system hardware consists of a small array of sensors, a low-noise preamplifier, a digitizer, and a computer. The FES algorithms process the time series produced by the digitizer. The software component comprises pattern generation and recognition algorithms, a small pattern database, and a graphical user interface or software interface to a communication grid and/or other modules.

Homeland defense, including antiterrorist efforts, requires highly selective, sensitive, and reliable detection of harmful gaseous agents. Intensive research has resulted in the use of chemical and biological sensor elements for the development of electronic noses (for gas sensing) and electronic tongues (for fluid sensing). The most sensitive and reliable method presently available for gas sensing utilizes surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices. However, current applications of this technology measure only the average resonant frequency, resulting in lack of selectivity, and are highly susceptible to inaccuracies due to changes in temperature. Therefore, there is a need for a highly selective, sensitive and reliable method of gas-sensing that is also less susceptible to inaccuracies due to temperature changes.

Key benefits of this technology include: improves both sensitivity and selectivity of current sensor methods by utilizing information currently being ignored; capable of simultaneous concentration measurement and agent classification—both features currently unavailable with existing methods; capable of operating under wider temperature range than existing methods; lower false alarm rate; reduced energy requirements; and decreased size requirements.

For more information, contact ssc_pac_t2@navy.mil.

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